Elisabeth Higgins Ambellan, 1914-2002
By Mary Clang
Elisabeth Higgins Ambellan, a research biochemist, died on Jan. 28. She was 88.
Ambellan was a research biologist at UConn from 1966 to 1981. To the end of her life, she worked for fair labor practices and for world peace through the United Nations.
"Elisabeth's interests and concerns were remarkably wide, ranging from molecular biology to contemporary social issues," says Carl Schaefer, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
Born in East Orange, N.J., Ambellan studied as an undergraduate at Cornell and Columbia Universities, did graduate work at Columbia, and received her Ph.D. in biology from Ohio State University.
Early in her career, she was a labor organizer for the Garment Workers' Union, and from 1935 to 1936 was an executive secretary for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. From 1945 to 1949, she was executive secretary of the Friends of Orphans of the French Resistance, work for which she was awarded the Medaille de la Renaissance Franaise in 1950.
Ambellan and her husband ran a successful New York business in "designer tiles" from 1941 to 1960. Their New York City loft was a meeting place for many of the early blues and protest singers, including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger.
Ambellan became a member of the Storrs Friends Meetings in 1973.
She is survived by her former husband, Harold Ambellan, and two nieces.
Donations in her memory may be sent to the Mansfield Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, 100 Warren Circle, Storrs, CT 06268.